Etymology of LGU names: The Municipality of Aritao and its component barangays

Etymology of LGU names: The Municipality of Aritao and its component barangays

The Municipality of ARITAO was formerly called “Ajanas”. Its name was later changed to “Aritao”, after the Isinay term “Ari-Tau” which means “Our King”, in honor of a mighty native leader of the place. It all originated from the story of a fierce Igorot warrior-chief of the mountain Rancheria of Ynordenan who was then referred to as “Mengal” and regarded by his tribemates as their King. This tribal leader who tenaciously defied Spanish authorities, as he firmly adhered to the pagan gods of their ancestors, yielded to the persuasions of Fr. Manuel Corripio, a Spanish missionary known to have built the first church in Aritao. Sometime in January 1767, this intrepid priest who was then unarmed and accompanied only by native guides bravely went to the mountain lair of the feared chieftain to personally persuade him to accept Christian baptism and move down to join the Christian folks in the lowland. Admiring the missionary’s courage and eloquent words and with the acceptance later by authorities of his conditions, the chieftain acquiesced to those propositions.

Barangay ANAYO: According to its inhabitants, the barangay’s name was derived from the Ilocano word “Anay”, which means “Termite”. The eggs and larvae of the termites that abound in the area were gathered and used by the settlers as fishmeal for their fishponds. A stranger happened to pass then in the place and met an old woman carrying a “Kayabang”, a knapsack made of bamboo slats and strips that was full of termite hives. When the stranger asked her the name of the place, the old woman immediately replied, “Anay”, believing that he was referring to the termites in her “Kayabang”. From that time on, the place was called “Anay” and, eventually, “Anayo”. The other version attributes it to “Ananayo”, the name of the elder-leader of the Ilongots, said to be the original settlers of the place, who was killed by migrants.

Barangay BAAN: The area was then a popular pastureland for herds of domesticated bovine farm animals, like cattle and goats. It was at first called “The Place of Baaaaahs and Maaaaahs” by people in the area due to the constant noise emanating from the animals. In the course of time, they shortened it to “Baan”.

Barangay BALITE: The barangay was named after the “Balete” tree species that was then prevalent therein.

Barangay BANGANAN: The Isinay word “Bangen”, which means “Checkpoint”, is the origin of “Banganan”. A checkpoint was then established at the boundary between Aritao and Dupax for the purpose of verifying the identity of people crossing either side, that whoever entered the jurisdictions without the permission of the respective reigning chieftains would be beheaded. The Isinais of Aritao and Ilongots or Bugkalots of Dupax continued this practice until such time the area was conquered by the Spaniards and subsequently by the Americans.

Barangay BETI: The inhabitants first called the place “Bity”, which means “Life” because of the fountain of cool water that they discovered between rocks and the sturdy tree identified by the natives as “Olivete” that grew abundantly in the area. That name was eventually changed to “Beti”.

Barangay BONE NORTH and Barangay BONE SOUTH: The name of the once undivided Barrio Bone that comprises the present-day Barangay Bone North, Barangay Bone South, and Barangay Calitlitan was derived from the Igorot word “Boni”, which means “Praying to Kabonean for help against enemies”. The place was first inhabited by Igorots who honored their god “Kabonean” by offering fruits and vegetables and slaying either a pig or chicken. They believe that their rituals help in curing their sick tribal members and enable their spiritual leaders as well to read some future situations through the slain animals’ livers. The natives lived freely in the area but were soon forced to move to the mountains because of incursions of migrants from Pangasinan and the Ilocos Region. The infuriated Igorot Datu Mengal was said to have used his strong power called “Boni” to exact revenge against the intruding Christians. The natives’ resorting to their “Boni” to curse or kill their enemies stuck in the minds of the inhabitants.

Barangay CALITLITAN: It was the Ilocanos who named the place “Calitlitan”, which means “a place where the plant ‘Litlit’, a medicinal wild vine, abounds”.

Barangay CANABUAN: The elders claim that long ago, after a bloody tribal war in their place, there was then a certain kind of grass that sprouted at the center of the battlefield. The grass became endemic, prompting the Kalanguya settlers to call the place “Kaibuan”. When the natives moved to remote areas, Ilocanos from the lowlands and other tribes also came to settle therein. Influenced by the different pronunciations of the new settlers, the name of the place finally evolved to “Canabuan”.

Barangay CANAREM: Long ago, hunters from nearby barangays used to rest underneath a rare big robust tree in this thickly forested place. It started to be inhabited when some hunters decided to migrate therein after discovering that it is very suited for cultivation. During World War II, the leader of a Japanese troop passing by was amazed at the huge tree, which prompted him to order his soldiers to build their camp and bunk house under it. When asked about the location of the soldiers, the people in the place would reply, “they’re under the big Canarem tree”. That tree, however, is no longer existent as it was cut down by Yamashita treasure hunters. When the place was officially established as a barangay, it was named Canarem in remembrance of the said tree.

Barangay COMON: The area was developed by Father Antolin who succeeded Fr. Corripio as Cura Paroco of Aritao in 1786. He built a model garden therein which was then called “Garden of Fr. Antolin”. The inhabitants, who were known to be well-disciplined and very cooperative, received common supplies and subsistence from Fr. Antolin. They called their settlement “Communal” which means community. That name, later on, evolved into “Comon”.

Barangay CUTAR: The barangay’s name was derived from the local word “Kuta”, which means “Fortress” or “Garrison”, originally referring to the camp which was established therein by Spanish soldiers.

Barangay DARAPIDAP: It was said that “blood flowed on the plains of the barangay” when its inhabitants decided to fight back and drive away the Ilongot headhunters who frequently attacked them. In memory of the gallantry of their forebears, the succeeding leaders named the place “Darapidap”, a derivative of the local words “Dara” and “Pidap” which mean blood and plain, respectively.

Barangay KIRANG: The name of the place was derived from the Ilocano word “Nakirang” which describes the scarcity of water needed to irrigate the rice fields in the area.

Barangay LATAR: As told, Fr. Francis, the first missionary to visit the place, was then curious about the way the inhabitants fetched water from a well along a river. Each was carrying on his shoulder a pole with a tin can (or Lata in Spanish) full of water hanging on both ends. The place was then called “Lata” and, eventually, “Latar”.

Barangay NAGCUARTELAN: The Ilocanos referred to the place as “nagcuartel-an dagiti Hapon” (in English, “a place where the Japanese soldiers put up their barracks”.) Soon, the residents adopted Nagcuartelan as the name of the place. Prior to its establishment as an independent barangay in 1957, through the initiative of the Provincial Officials led by Hon. Jose G. Espino, the place used to be only a part of Barangays Bone North and Cutar.

Barangay OCAO-CAPINIAAN: The place was named after its two big component Sitios, namely, Ocao and Capiniaan. The higher-elevated Sitio was named after the bamboo species that thrived therein, called “Ocao” and “Bolo” by the Kalanguyas and Ilocanos, respectively. The lower Sitio’s name “Capiniaan” was derived from “Pinya” or “Pinia”, the Iluko word for pineapple, that was abundant in the place. Thus, “Capiniaan” means “a place where there are plenty of pineapples”.

Barangay POBLACION: “Poblacion” is a Spanish word that literally means “Town” or “Settlement”. In the Philippines, it is the common term used for the administrative center or central business district area of a city or municipality. (

Barangay STA. CLARA: As told, the place was then a bustling community inhabited by Isinais, Ilocanos, and Kalanguyas. Spanish missionaries encamped therein for the purpose of converting the residents into Christians. Here also lived a beautiful woman, Clara, the wife of a leader by the name of Eusebio Caoile. Clara was tortured to death after spurning her Spanish missionary admirer. In honor of Clara, the residents decided to name the place “Santa Clara”, which was later on shortened to “Sta. Clara”.

Barangay TABUENG: The place was first inhabited by a group of Bugkalots in the early 19th century. Their leader was a certain Datu Tabuong, from whom the name of their settlement, Tabueng, was derived. The place was then a mere Sitio of Aritao, as the latter was just a Barrio of the erstwhile undivided municipality of Dupax due to poor financial resources. Sitios Tabueng and Banganan were transformed into barrios when Aritao was elevated to township status in 1919.

Barangay TUCANON: The name of this barangay, formerly known as “Yantap”, was based on an anecdote about a group of American soldiers during the Philippine-American War. The soldiers, carrying two canons, were said to have asked an old man about the place. The latter was only able to utter “two canons”. From that time on, the place was called “Tucanon”.

Barangay YAWAY: In the early days, the place was thickly forested and frequented by hunters from Barangay Beti who also rested therein after long hours of hunting. In the 1960s, some farmers from Comon and Banganan and other nearby barangays introduced the “Kaingin” system in the area, and upon discovering the richness of its soil, they started to plant vegetables and an upland variety of rice. With the vast potential of the place, especially its arable land, these people, together with some migrants from other provinces, decided to settle in the area. The barangay derived its name from the Iluko word “Away”, which means arable land.

Municipal Socio-Economic Profile of Aritao (Courtesy of Aritao-MPDO)
Socio-Economic Profiles of the Barangays of Ambaguio (Courtesy of Aritao-MLGOO, DILGNV)

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